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4.27.12 Issue

Annette van de Kamp-Wright, Editor of the Jewish Press

On May 15, when the primary elections are held, there will be a familiar name on the ballot for Millard residents. Amy Friedman, who will retire as Millard Public School spokeswoman on May 31, has thrown her name in the hat for a position on the “super board:” the Learning Community Coordinating Council (LCCC), a political subdivision created by the Nebraska legislature in 2009.

Friedman has been in public relations for about 30 years, the last 17 as the face of the Millard Public School district, and she is ready for a new challenge: “My job at Millard was a 24/7 occupation, I am used to working hard,” she says. “I feel very strongly about the value of public education, and believe education is such an important area to support. It is what has made our nation great; you can be whatever you want to be only through quality education, and I look forward to being a strong advocate for all children in our community.”

The Learning Community concept was first introduced in 2006, and revised in subsequent years, in order to resolve educational and boundary issues among school districts in the Omaha metropolitan area. 18 voting members from six districts meet once per month, and since its inception in 2009, the LCCC has developed plans for elementary learning centers for children and families in high poverty areas and funded summer pilot programs to help close the summer learning gap. The LCCC oversees common property tax levies among its 11 districts in Sarpy and Douglas counties.

“It’s an opportunity for collaboration among all parts of the Metro,” Friedman says, “and the Learning Community’s focus on improving education for all students in need is critical. There are huge disparities between various school districts, and the Learning Community gives us the chance to share ideas, work together, but also protect what works well. For instance, the Millard district has excellent test scores and a high graduation rate, and we have to maintain both. It is important to have a balance.”

Opportunities, where possible, need to be expanded, according to Friedman, while making sure the LCCC does not overstep its authority when dealing with local school boards. “Parents should be able to choose the best school for their children, regardless of their economic status. At the end of the day, there are very few parents who don’t want what is best for their children; that includes, and often starts with, a good education.”

It’s a different angle for Friedman, after being the publicity person for so many years. “I loved doing the P.R. for Millard,” she says, “And I will miss it. It was a very busy and exciting time, and it was truly my dream job; what I won’t miss is that feeling of responsibility when something very big happens. And the wake-up calls at 3 a.m. when they decide to call a snow day!”

She will miss the people she worked with and, of course, the students. But those students will have just as much of a champion in Friedman if and when she is elected to the Learning Community. She understands what needs to be addressed so that each child has a real chance at a quality education.